I used to love playing with dominos as a kid. Not the game itself, but the set them up, standing an inch apart, creating a swirl of designs, trails, spirals, branches from her to there. And after an hour of prep, I’d flick that first one, and down they all go. As they were fated to fall. At least that’s the hope.
Every morning I marvel at the domino effects all around me. I see it all the time. The guy that holds the subway door for his buddy, thus preventing the train from leaving for 10 more seconds. But that mere 10 seconds then affects everyone on that train. How many people is that? 100? 200? More? And then they all go out about their day. Each 10 seconds later due to that subway ride. One man could be late for an important interview, and is hit by a car upon leaving. Another could miss his connecting subway, and miss his flight, but meets his next wife.
It’s all magical and insane if you try to think about it too hard. I used to try and peer into the complexities of just such a fate engine. Every time I tried to book a flight, I’d become racked with anxiety, trying to decide on an 8:30 or a 9:30, weighing in traffic as well as the kind of people who would choose the later flight and possibly want to hook up with me in the airplane bathroom. I would become racked with indecision, wondering if by choosing a later flight I could avoid a death sentence that would be guaranteed if I took the earlier flight. This made travel for nearly impossible for me for a few months, until I just sucked it up and started looking for clues in the numbers. Yes, I may be a little insane. I’m a writer though, so give me a break.
This morning, I had a particularly pleasant run-in. I got to the intersection of 54th and 8th Avenue, and across the street was an insanely handsome chap. Roughly six foot, dark hair, groomed beard, sunglasses, adorable smile. He was wearing a light blue Keystone Light t-shirt and khaki shorts. He smiled at me from across the traffic and for a second I was wondering if he smiling at me. He was. Once the light turned, we walked toward one another, exchanging big smiles, and then passing. I stopped across the street and looked back. After a few extra feet, he gave me a look back, smiled, and kept walking.
You’re going to say, this kind of stuff happens all the time. And you’re right. But this wasn’t a regular morning for me.
Firstly, the sun woke me up, overheating my face, three minutes before my alarm went off. I got up, went about my morning routine, but ended up watching a full episode of an hour-long DVR’ed show (rather than half, as I usually do in the mornings). I showered, dressed, and rather than go to 125th street for the express train, I stopped at the dry cleaners to get a new pair of pants hemmed. I took the local from 116th, and got out at Columbus Circle. It was a particularly nice day and I had to drop off a sample at a clinic (intestinal problems again, yay!). Afterward, I finally resumed my usual walk to work, but paused at Dunkin Donuts. This is a maybe 4 times a year type occasion for me, where I just decide, “Hey, I deserve something disgustingly delicious.” So I got a glazed, walked out, and met my prince.
That’s a lot of dominos that have to fall JUST RIGHT in order for he and I to cross paths. Think about it. An extra ten seconds somewhere here or there, and we wouldn’t have exchanged smiles. Had I taken a left instead of a right, or skipped my donut, no look-back. All those dominos had to be standing just right, pointing in just the right direction, needing just that perfect amount of force. And then click click click click click click they all start falling into place.
Is it fate? Predestination? Magical randomness? Who knows. Think about it too hard and you’ll either drive yourself neurotic or get a headache.
But I just got to work, sat down, ate my donut, and put up a MISSED CONNECTION on Craigslist. Maybe he’ll answer, maybe he won’t. But who knows, this guy could be my future husband. Or best friend. Or worst enemy. His position in my life, if any, has yet to be revealed—at least to me. But I enjoy thinking about all the steps that had to fall into place for me to be rewarded with a kind smile from a handsome gent.
Good morning. -r